My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As the world turns and technology continues to advance, so does the ever-present threat of fraud in our lives. Whether it’s shopping online or buying a new insurance policy or even a telephone call from a stranger, we must do our part to help protect ourselves and our private information from those who may want to take it. Fraud knows no boundaries and impacts Floridians of every age and income level. Each year, fraud costs consumers billions of dollars in higher fees, taxes and insurance rates that are collected to cover losses from fraudulent transactions.

Our Department works to cut down the cost of fraud each and every day in a variety of ways, some of which you may already know and some you may not.

Division of Insurance Fraud badgeOur Division of Insurance Fraud takes fraud head on by investigating a host of insurance-related crimes. From staged car accidents to fake water leaks for insurance payments to employers who fail to adequately protect their employees with workers’ compensation coverage, our investigators are working in every corner of our state to root out and address these crimes that are driving up our insurance rates. We’re making great strides, averaging four arrests per day, taking four more fraudsters out of your pockets. If you see something, say something. To report suspected insurance fraud, please call 1-800-378-0445.

Division of State Fire Marshal badgeOur Division of State Fire Marshal works to solve cases of suspicious fires in our state. You may not know that one of the primary reasons people intentionally start fires in our nation is in hopes of collecting the insurance money tied to the property they’ve destroyed. It happens more often than you’d think—since 2011, we’ve made nearly 1,500 arson arrests. If you have information regarding a fire you believe to be suspicious, tell our investigators by calling 1-877-662-7766.

Our Division of Public Assistance Fraud fights against those who try to cheat our public benefits system, which is designed to temporarily help Floridians through their time of need. Just last fiscal year, we opened 232 slots for hard-working families to enroll their children in daycare services so they can go to work to provide for themselves. When people steal these benefits, it takes away from another family in need. In total, we’ve stopped more than $167 million worth of public assistance fraud in the last four-and-a-half years. If you think someone is cheating the public assistance system, please report it by calling 1-866-762-2237.

File an Insurance Complaint - We are here for youLastly, and the one area I encourage you to become familiar with, is our Division of Consumer Services, which works 365 days a year to assist and inform you and your loved ones about fraud and scams of all types.

Here are just a few of the services they provide:

  • Insurance Consumer Helpline: Consumers can chat with an insurance expert to get advice about the purchase of a new policy, to go over coverage limits, or to ask for help during the claims process.


  • Mediation Services: Are you dissatisfied with the response you’re getting from your carrier? Was your claim denied? Do you think your claim was not handled properly? Our insurance experts will reach out to your insurance company on your behalf to help you get the coverage you deserve.

Tools are available all-day, every day by visiting our website at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/. To speak with an insurance expert or to request help with a claim, give us a call at 1-877-693-5236.

With the holidays quickly approaching, scammers tend to come out of the woodwork to try to steal your hard-earned cash. Stay on guard and give us a call if you need some assistance.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Florida's Strong Fiscal Conditions

Dominic Calabro, Florida TaxWatchFlorida’s economy is in a slow, but steady, recovery. This recovery has state government revenues increasing again, and the budget deficits of the Great Recession are hopefully a thing of the past. Sound structural provisions in Florida law and the fiscal discipline shown by our elected officials allowed us to weather that storm, and the state fiscal position remains strong.

Florida has one of the best balanced budget requirements in the nation, meaning Florida can only spend money that is currently available. This requirement is in the Florida Constitution, so it cannot be circumvented. During the recession, as state revenues declined rapidly, the Legislature was able to pass balanced budgets and address any deficit that arose. As the bond rating agency Fitch stated when it announced Florida’s "AAA" rating in 2013: “the legislature consistently and promptly addressed numerous large negative revenue estimate revisions during the downturn, maintaining budget balance and an adequate reserve position.” This was accomplished with relatively few tax increases, instead focusing on budget reductions and cost saving measures.

Read more from Dominic Calabro in the latest edition of Florida's Bottom Line, plus many more Florida economic articles of interest.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s retail activity up over the year
Florida’s retail activity index rose 6.9 percent over the year in August. Out of the six measures that make up the index, Building Investment (+9.5 percent) and Autos and Accessories (+8.1 percent) increased the most.
Source: Office of Economic and Demographic Research

Small business optimism flat in October
According to a new report by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business optimism was unchanged in October, after a rise of 0.2 points in September.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business